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Can Alcohol Fit Into Your Diet?

Oct 1, 2014
Spring has finally sprung! As the days become longer, warmer, and brighter, many of us are coming out of our winter hibernations. We're starting to get excited about getting together after work for drinks with friends along with memorable weekends filled with barbecues and family gatherings. We want to have fun but we also want to maintain our weight loss goals that we have been working so hard towards. an alcoholic beverages fit into a healthy diet plan and if so how?

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Let's begin by comparing the calorie content of a few of the basic popular drinks. These are estimates and exact values may obviously vary by brand:
  • 12 oz. Beer = 155 calories
  • 12 oz. Light Beer = 105 calories
  • 5 oz. Glass of Wine = 125 calories
  • 1 oz. Hard Liquor = 65-75 calories
Now that you have a general idea of the number of calories you are adding by consuming various alcoholic drinks, the next three things to consider are:
  1. The size of your drink. If you order a beer on tap, most likely you are going to be served a larger portion than a 12oz bottle. The same goes for glasses of wine. You may easily be poured a 10 oz. glass of wine rather than just the standard "serving size" of 4 or 5 oz., so you need to be aware of approximately how large your serving is.
  2. Any mixers involved. Did you order a rum and coke? How about a Screwdriver? Don't forget that most mixed drinks contain added sugar from soft drinks or juices. Many "juices" are not really any better than soda as they are often made with high fructose corn syrup. Bloody Marys are a good choice because tomato juice tends to be lower in calories than sodas and sugary fruit drinks. Plus you get all the lycopene!
  3. How many you are having. Sure, 150 calories for a beer seems easy enough to fit into a day's allotment of calories, but you must pay attention to whether you are having a single drink or six. Calories add up quickly.
Beware of those fancy specialty drinks. They may sound incredibly tempting, but the ingredients and calories will put you into a major state of shock. For example, a single Pina Colada or a Mudslide can contain 250-500 calories per glass with virtually zero nutritional value. If you really love these types of drinks and it is a special occasion, factor the calories for one of them into your daily caloric needs, enjoy it fully, and then switch to something less indulgent.

Wine will give you the most nutrients per calorie. Hard liquor mixed with 100% fruit juice can offer some nutrition also, but it is still not as beneficial as the whole fruit. If you are making drinks at home, try creating your own whole-fruit smoothie drinks in a blender with added shots of alcohol. This way, you get the fiber and health benefits of fresh fruits that you won't find in pasteurized fruit juices. If you are planning on having a few drinks in one night, try to have a glass of water in between each drink. Also, never drink on an empty stomach, and don't ever drink and drive. Being aware of what you are drinking and how much is the key to maintaining control. With a little preplanning and knowledge, you will be well prepared to enjoy the good times!

Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition Housecalls.com.


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